2013 was not a good year for safeties in the NFC North. Let's just make that very clear from the start.
While the Green Bay Packers' safeties failed to record a single interception all year long, the Chicago Bears had problems of their own at the position, problems which were capped off by Chris Conte blowing single-coverage against Randall Cobb on Aaron Rodgers' division-clinching touchdown pass in Week 17.
Just look at these names: Conte. Major Wright. Craig Steltz. Anthony Walters. That's a real who's who of "Who?"
But don't fear - this offseason, they added some payers who have been NFL starters before. Like Danny McCray, who started 10 games for the Cowboys in 2012. Or Ryan Mundy, who started 10 games for the Giants a year ago. Oh, and we can't forget about everybody's favorite Doctor, M.D. Jennings, who made the trip a few hours south from Green Bay.
While we can't help enjoying a little good-natured ribbing at the expense of a rival, this strategy has its benefits: it is cheaper than bringing in a high-priced free agent safety and it allowed them to address the cornerback position in the first round of the draft, where they drafted Kyle Fuller from Virginia Tech. In fact, the only rookie safety they added is Minnesota's Brock Vereen, who was taken in the fourth round of this year's draft.
However, their latest move may be a sign that they did not see the kind of competition they were hoping for during OTAs and minicamp:
THIS JUST IN: The Bears sign 5-time Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson. He last played in 2013 preseason w/New England. pic.twitter.com/rtTPgwgOnS— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) June 23, 2014
Anyways, Wilson was an 11-year starter for the Arizona Cardinals, but he spent last season on the Patriots' injured reserve. If you want to talk about a low-risk candidate for some training camp competition, Wilson is a perfect option.
But here's the problem: Wilson, though only 34, has been in the NFL since 2001, so he's got a lot of mileage on his tires, so to speak. And as I mentioned, he is coming off a season in which he was injured before the campaign even started, and he was no lock to make the Patriots' roster anyway. It's highly unlikely that he will make any significant impact for the Bears this season or beyond.
None of that makes this a poor decision by Chicago, however. The 2006-2010 edition of Adrian Wilson was one of the top safeties in all of football, as he was elected to several Pro Bowls and was awarded First-Team All-Pro once as well. He will come to training camp and try to make the team ahead of one of the names you read above and given his pedigree and the lack of production from the rest of the players at the position, that's a possibility (albeit still a slim one). Plus, odds are good that he'll be coming to camp on a veteran minimum contract. At this point, it's basically a lottery ticket.
Still, it's telling that the Bears are resorting to signings like this that could be at best considered a "reach." The Packers, on the other hand, elected not to bring in a slew of cheap veterans to compete (nor did they add a high-priced free agent), but instead they are sticking to Ted Thompson's draft and develop strategy. They are looking to deevlop from within, trying out Micah Hyde as a candidate for the free safety job, and they spent their first-round pick on Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who will also have his sights set on the starting job.
But if not for them, Ted might be bringing in Adrian Wilsons as well.